So once again we have survived.

Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

Vern Follows Will Smith In PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS!!

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Merrick here…

Van Damme obsessed Vern sent in this review of PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS. Did you know that Van Damme’s CYBORG is actually a defunct sequel to Dolph Lundgren’s MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE movie? The mind reels over the possibilities!

PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS (the misspelled title really irritates me, but I suppose it’s memorable) stars Will Smith, and is written by Steve Conrad (who recently scripted THE WEATHER MAN.) I’ve always enjoyed Will Smith. Even when he makes schmaltzy movies, his presence is genuine (except for THE WILD, WILD WEST – in which everybody and everything was torturously rotten and disingenuous.) Director Jonathan Mostow (TERMINATOR 3) recently departed Smith’s forthcoming TONIGHT, HE COMES…about a superhero who hooks up with a small town housewife… produced by Akiva Goldsman and Michael Mann. It’ll be interesting to see how quickly that project jumps back on track. It’ll also be interesting to see if they keep that title, given how pornographic it sounds.

But, I digress completely. Here’s Vern…

PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS is actually a pretty good drama/shameless inspirational tale based on an actual guy who was profiled on 20/20 one time. Will Smith stars as Chris Gardner, a dude who, while completely broke, struggles through a highly competitive, unpaid stock broker trainee program. There are 20 people in the program and only one will be chosen to stay at the firm, the others are shit out of luck. I won’t give away whether he ends up getting the job at the end. Who knows? Anything could happen. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

The Ninth Configuration

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

Here’s a weird fuckin movie written and directed by William Peter Blatty, the guy who wrote the novel of THE EXORCIST. I’ve been hearing the title for years so I know it has a cult following, but I think they had trouble selling it because all they could figure was “from the creator of THE EXORCIST” but it’s not like that movie at all. It starts out as a goofy comedy and turns into a sad essay about God, or something. I don’t really understand the meaning of the title, but it has something to do with a protein molecules and the existence of God. It’s mentioned in a dream scene where an astronaut finds a giant crucifix on the moon.

But now I’m making it sound stranger than it actually is. All I can figure to describe it is “ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST meets ROLLING THUNDER.” (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

This movie is directed by and starring Mr. Tommy Lee Jones (UNDER SIEGE) and it’s a western, even though it takes place today. It might be the first western with cell phones. As far as I could tell there were only two literal burials of Melquiades Estrada depicted in the movie so I figure the other one is some kind of metaphor.

Tommy plays Pete, a Texas ranch hand with unspecified past, and his best friend Melquiades is played by a guy named Julio Cesar Cedillo. He’s not in the movie as much as Pete though, because he’s dead. The movie opens with some good ol’ boys driving around with guns and they see a coyote chewing on something, and they shoot it. Then when they go to gather up the sweet, sweet coyote meat they notice that what the coyote was chewing on was The One Dead Body of Melquiades Estrada. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

This movie stars Steve McQueen as a bank robber, which automatically makes it worth seeing. And this is a good movie. But to be honest it doesn’t live up to its reputation or its potential. I know that Steve McQueen, like me, was someone who often could be spotted out and about striving for excellence. So I don’t think he would have a problem with me holding him to a high standard of achievement.

The first thing you’ll notice about the movie is that it’s very stylish. The opening and various other scenes use split-screen up the wazoo, splitting the screen into something like six different little boxes to show the different people intersecting for a heist. The cinematographer is Haskell Wexler (see TELL THEM WHO YOU ARE above for more on him) so despite all the showoffery in the editing alot of the footage is very handheld, documentary looking, like you’re there. Alot of the scenes are just dialogue-free footage of Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown fucking around. For example he flies in a glider or drives around really fast in a dune buggy. The dune buggy footage is pretty spectular, it seems like he’s about to flip over at any moment and you can’t help but notice he’s got no roll bars above his head. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Bubble

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

I might’ve mentioned before, I like this Steve Soderbergh guy. Number one, he knows what the fuck he’s doing. Number two, he does what the fuck he wants. He’s the epitome of the guy who does smart but crowdpleasing commercial movies (OCEAN’S 11, ERIN BROCKOVICH) then turns around and makes a crazy no budget weird ass movie (SCHIZOPOLIS, FULL FRONTAL). I wish he’d make more badass crime movies like THE LIMEY and OUT OF SIGHT but that’s just me. If I could tell him what to do that would violate number two (see above). A violation like that would probaly ruin the roll he’s on and all the sudden he’d start doing half-assed FINAL DESTINATION sequels or something.

Now that this guy has a best director Oscar (for TRAFFIC), a Criterion Edition (for SCHIZOPOLIS), an outlaw award winner (THE LIMEY) and the all important misunderstood sequel (OCEAN’S 12), he decided there was one thing he was missing: a series of six digitally shot improvisational movies starring non-actors in their real home towns to be released in theaters, on dvd and on cable all at the same time. BUBBLE is the first in this ridiculous experiment and let’s be honest here. Even if you don’t know exactly what you’re getting into, you do know what you’re getting into. First motherfucker that watches BUBBLE and complains that it’s not INDIANA JONES gets a knuckle sandwich. This is not designed to entertain the whole world. It’s designed to be the type of movie you shoot quickly with a low budget on hi-def video and release on DVD at the same time as theaters. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Crash (1996)

Sunday, January 29th, 2006

Since I recently watched that movie CRASH that Roger Ebert said was the best movie of 2005, I decided to finally go back and watch the original David Cronenberg version, which in my opinion is pretty fucking different.

This is the courageous story of a movie producer (James Spader) and his wife (Debora Kara Unger from STANDER and PAYBACK and THE GAME) and all the people they like to fuck from behind (various). The movie opens with Ms. Unger in an a hangar rubbing her nipple against an airplane while some dude licks her ass. And you can imagine where it would go from there (perverted car crashes, etc.). Very predictable, standard stuff. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power

Friday, January 27th, 2006

Geez, I shouldn’t have put off seeing this movie so long considering it really is my beat. This is kind of a miracle actually. This is the rare DTV movie that could’ve passed for a low budget theatrical movie. The only thing really holding it back is being a prequel with a different star from the original, which is a real good reason not to release it in theaters. Going straight to video lowers the expectations and makes it only half count as a sequel or prequel, which gives it a better shot at working. And for me it did. Even if you don’t go for it I think you will be awed by its competence. This is definitely a landmark in DTV sequelization.

I love the original CARLITO’S WAY, but I haven’t seen it in years, so that probaly helps. I never knew this but DePalma’s movie was based on the second book in a series. The book was called After Hours, but they didn’t want it confused with the Scorsese movie of the same name so they called it CARLITO’S WAY, after the first book in the series. RISE TO POWER is actually adapted from the book Carlito’s Way, according to legend. (I haven’t read the books so who knows.) (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Match Point

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

MATCH POINT is the new Woody Allen picture. The title refers to tennis but to me it sounds like just some generic name of a place title like GOSFORD PARK or PACIFIC HEIGHTS or LAND OF THE DEAD. If it was up to me it would be called KEEP YOUR DICK IN YOUR PANTS. You know, like, “This winter, director Woody Allen invites you to… Keep Your Dick In Your Pants.”

This is the first Woody Allen movie in a long time that doesn’t seem exactly like every other Woody Allen movie. It takes place in London with a mostly british cast. Jonathan Rhys somebody (a guy from TITUS) plays a guy named Chris. He’s a former pro tennis player who’s kind of a cheapskate, always trying to bum shit off of people. So one day he’s taking advantage of a rich tennis student’s generosity when he falls for the guy’s sister (Emily Mortimer). And then as soon as that’s rolling he falls even harder for the guy’s fiancee (Scarlett Johansen [hubba hubba]). He wants Scarlett bad and tries to make a pass at her but it doesn’t work out. So what the hell, he marries Emily. He gets a good job out of it and her parents pay for him to have a nice apartment and shit. And she wants some babies, now. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Mindhunters

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

Some day I gotta come up with a name for this certain style of movie I like, a movie that is really fuckin dumb, but in a good way. It manages to be so spectacular, almost innovative in its level of stupidity that it is what the young people now and in the ’80s called “awesome.” I’m not talking a dumb comedy like HOW HIGH, I’m talking about a movie that as far as anyone knows is supposed to be serious. One really good example is DEEP BLUE SEA, Renny Harlin’s movie about super intelligent sharks. That takes the genre to its highest levels because there are so many things that play with the audience’s expectations that it is undeniably clever, almost brilliant. And at the same time, so fuckin dumb. A movie where a girl has to take her scuba suit off and stand on top of it so as not to get electrocuted. Because of the super intelligent sharks. That’s the best, when it’s so smart and so dumb that you can’t even tell which is which anymore.

Well this is not that good but it is another dumb movie by the same director. I think maybe the pressure of doing a sequel to DIE HARD was too much for Renny Harlin to take, it damaged his brain and he’s been mushy ever since. MINDHUNTERS isn’t as good as DEEP BLUE SEA but it’s worthwhile if you’re into that type of stupid shit, like I am. It has Val Kilmer, Christian Slater and of course DEEP BLUE SEA’s LL Cool J in the cast but it sat on the shelf for a couple years. It actually came out on DVD in Russia a long time before it came out in american theaters. So maybe the Russians could tell me what to call this genre. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Crash (2005)

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Unfortunately this is not the pervy Cronenberg movie I’ve never gotten around to seeing about the people getting off on car crashes. This is the race relations movie directed by Paul Haggis, writer of Clint’s MILLION DOLLAR BABY. I gotta be honest, my reason for seeing this was not that I thought I would like it, but that I was just real damn curious. Because it got so many rave reviews, and Roger Ebert chose it as the best of the year, but every single person I knew who had seen it said it was corny, overwrought bullshit.

I hate to be a centrist but I think it falls somewhere in the middle. It seems well intentioned. It’s trying to point out different kinds of subconscious racism, it’s trying to show that people are complicated, racists maybe have a chance of being redeemed, people who don’t think they are racists might end up shooting a black dude, etc. It’s one of those movies where there’s a bunch of different characters tangentally connected by coincidence and you find out as the story unfolds what they have to do with each other, which can be fun. And there’s some good little moments and whatnot. One of the best scenes actually involves a cop trying to save somebody from a flipped car before it blows up. In other words, a scene you can see in every single episode of CHiPs. But this is better directed so it’s pretty intense. Also Tony Danza has a cameo. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.